Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cyclocross, the Sport of the Future

Much has been said of late about American Cyclocross peaking, or declining, or being killed. I could not disagree more. Never mind that American pro's are doing better than ever. Never mind that the best pro/elite racing for women is in the United States. Never mind that our best u23 riders are competing at world cups for podiums. Never mind that there are more people racing cyclocross across the country than ever before. The future of US cyclocross is stronger than ever because of the talent of our juniors. Yes, our juniors are the sign of the strength of American cyclocross.

Consider this before nationals: as I look at the race predictor rankings for the various categories, the most competitive event of the week is the Mens Juniors 17-18 race. Each of the predicted top ten have a legitimate shot of winning. 8 of the top 10 have been racing in Europe during Christmas week at Geoff Proctor's 'Cross Camp. 5 of them achieved top 20 results while racing in Belgium.
Remember these names; Logan Owen, Curtis White, Andrew Dillmen, Sam O'Keefe, Nate Morse, Chase Dickens, Tobin Ortenblad, Cyprus Gorey. They are the future of American Cyclocross.

Will they all become Pros? Who knows. Some of them may go the way of Jesse Anthony or Danny Summerhill or Gavin Mannion and decide that road racing is more attractive. Then again, those guys may be like Tim Johnson and eventually come back to cyclocross. Some may even leave the sport entirely. But even if half of them go the way of Jonathan Page and Jeremy Powers and Ryan Trebon, then the future of American cyclocross is bright. All of these kids have already been across the pond. They've seen how the game is played at its highest level. They've had a glimpse of how the top Pro's race on the toughest courses.

Oh, and besides those boys, there are a dozen 15-16 year olds coming behind them. I haven't even mentioned the junior women yet, or Katie Antonneau. And who knows how big Bruce Fina, Joan Hanscom, Adam Myerson, & Paul Boudreau can make US Pro Cyclocross races. But I am excited to see it.

American Cyclocross: the Sport of the Future.


  1. You are an idiot.

    I didn't want to ruin your streak of zero comments, but this is such a fucked up blog entry that I had to say something.

    Historically, junior racers in the US do not go on to great success at the world (or even domestic) level in cross. They never have. They never will. Less than 1% of any current crop of junior riders will continue on to the elite/professional level. At most, 10% will even continue on in the sport in any discipline at all. Here are the results from 2002 - technically not a decade ago, but the jump to a January nationals makes this a fairly equitable comparison. I bolded the ones still racing cross (some are still racing but went on to road).

    Results 2002 US National Cyclocross Championships

    Junior Men 17-18

    1 Jesse Anthony (Saturn Development Cycling Team) 42.32
    2 Jamey Driscoll (Green Mountain Bicycle Club) 0.08
    3 Zak Grabowski (Saturn Cycling Development Team) 0.56
    4 Steven Cozza (Team Swift) 1.08
    5 Tucker Thomas (Rad Racing) 1.29
    6 Joey Thompson (Balance Bar/Devo) 2.21
    7 David Fleischhauer (Rad Racing Nw) 3.07
    8 Morgan Schmitt 3.55
    9 Konrad Lebas (E-Caps/Hammer Nutrition) 4.12
    10 Perry Paolini (Balance Bar - Devo) 4.47
    11 Will Dreeman (Rad Racing Nw) 4.57
    12 Mike Wente 5.47
    13 David Volkert (Asc Genisoy) 6.37
    14 Andy Brooks 6.55
    15 Severin Skolrud (Rad Racing) 1 lap
    16 Tyler Carmichael (Lbc/Cyclocrossworld.Com)
    17 Joshua Hansen (Rad Racing)
    18 Daniel Neyens (Broadmark)

    Junior Men, 10-12

    1 Alex Coelho 38.02
    2 Luciano Worl (Rad Racing Nw) 0.11
    3 Evan Schmitt 1.26
    4 Davis Smith (Internation Christian Cyclery) 1.58
    5 Brian Jorgensen 3.51

    Junior Men, 13-14

    1 Tejay Van Garderen (Share The Roads Racing) 41.22
    2 Ricardo Cruz 1.19
    3 Chris Wade (Carolinas Cyclocross Association)
    4 Daniel Summerhill
    5 Tucker Olander (Peerless/Hnecc)
    6 Jt Toepel (Team Cornerstone)
    7 Nathan Bannerman
    8 Mario Wilson (Sgw/Tower/City Bike Works)
    9 Alex Howes
    10 Ethan Tieger (Essex County Velo)
    11 Blake Anton

    Jr Men 15-16

    1 Christopher Stockburger (Monsoon Racing) 37.41
    2 Tristan Skolrud (Rad Racing) 0.19
    3 Adam Switters (Sgw/Bianchi/Bicycle Planet) 1.20
    4 Taylor Lane (Khsnm.Com) 2.29
    5 Derek Laan (Gopher Wheelmen) 2.36
    6 Charles Marzot (Corner Cycle Cycling Club) 2.37
    7 Adam Mcgrath (Pro Peleton) 2.38
    8 Charles Kimball (Khs) 4.36

    Jr Women 10-14

    1 Danielle Haulman (Team Cornerstone) 32.39
    2 Amara Boursaw (Greggis/Trek) 1.05

    Jr Women 15-18

    1 Magen Long (Specialized) 32.06
    2 Larssyn Staley (Saturn Development) 0.31
    3 Karen Amundson (Rad Racing) 0.33
    4 Lauren Trull (Earth Fare/Cca) 2.50
    5 Silva Da Thais (Dogfish) 3.55
    6 Michele Gibbson 4.48
    7 Tela Crane (Rad Racing Northwest) 6.10
    8 Kristin Siebenlist (Dmos /Dmcc) 2.40
    DNF Mesa Lange-Scovel

  2. Dutchman: you're making my point. American cyclocross historically has been thin. A few very good racers coming out of the junior ranks (note that there are actually 4 other guys on this results sheet who raced some cyclocross this season, McGrath, Summerhill, Anthony, & Cozza). Though there are a a few former junior champions who have enjoyed moderate success as pro's, even internationally, Johnathan Page & Tim Johnson. (And looking at the 2002 result, Tejay Van Garderen is doing alright as a road pro).

    My point was that 5-10 years ago, the junior numbers were small, and even the best juniors had few opportunities to advance to the pro ranks. Now we have kids not just going to Geoff Proctor's 'Cross Camp, but going back repeatedly, as juniors, & competing for top tens. Now we have kids who can look at Page, Powers, Johnson, & Trebon to see a path toward becoming a full time professional cyclocross racer. That did not exist in 2002. Nevermind that we have 4x as many girls and 3x as many boys registerd to race nationals as 9 years ago.

    Less .1% of all highschool athletes end up becoming professionals in any sport. My point is that cyclocross in the US is growing up. And its a good thing.